New device helps stroke patients suffering from 'foot drop'


by HealthLink

Posted on September 17, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., but thanks to new technology and treatment, there are also 6.5 million survivors in the country. More than 20 percent of them suffer from foot drop -- the inability to raise the foot because of weakness or paralysis. A new, personalized device is helping survivors feel sturdier on their feet.

Linda Krohn is the proud mother of Olympic gold medal downhill skier Lindsey Vonn.

"Lindsey is just one example of what hard work can do," says Linda.

That work ethic runs in the family. But for years, Linda's foot drop held her back. She had a stroke while giving birth to Lindsey.

"With a foot drop, I would catch my toe, so it's dangerous," says Linda.

She has a smoother step now thanks to a new device called WalkAide that pinpoints Linda's Peroneal nerve. Those measurements are transmitted through Bluetooth technology into a control unit and cuff she wears while walking. Instead of a one-size-fits-all device, practitioners line up the electrodes exactly with Linda's nerve.

"The placement of the electrodes is unique to everyone," says Roger Wagner, CPO of Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics.

Each patient has a tiny permanent mark showing where the cuff should go.

"It's very critical to get it exactly where it needs to be," says Wagner.

Medicare and Medicaid does cover the cost of the system for some indications including stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury. Without insurance, the device can cost about $8,000.

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